01 of 14
Make Dollhouse Scale Miniature Mushrooms
Tiny mushrooms with a texture, feel and color like the real varieties are fun to have in a dollhouse kitchen, outdoor setting, or in a witch's kitchen for Halloween. The mushrooms shown here are all made from Delight air dry clay, which is the closest modelling material in texture and result to real mushrooms. Although you will use very little clay for this project, the air dry clay can be kept in a closed, zip lock bag with small amounts of water added to the bag once in a while to keep the clay from drying out. Dried clay can be brought back to usefullness by taking small amounts and dipping them in water, then setting them aside to remoisten, repeating this process until you can knead the clay easily.
Delight has some unusual modelling properties which lend it to projects where slight 'wrinkling' is beneficial in the finished objects, including breads and buns, which can be made with a very realistic texture and feel. You can view other projects made with Delight Clay on the Miniatures Site:
- Make Junk and Snack Food in Dollhouse Scales
- Make Miniature Seagulls
- Make Miniature Chick-a-Dees or Titmice
- Make Miniature Mice or Rats
- Make Miniature Peanuts in the Shell
If you prefer, you can make mushrooms from polymer clay or epoxy putty, but they will not have quite the textural details possible with air dry clay.
To display your miniature mushrooms you can make a traditional oval mushroom gathering basket by weaving the oval market basket / Easter basket with walls only half as high as shown in the instructions, and weaving the basket from plain colors. If you prefer you can make a flower gathering basket to show off your mushrooms. Mushrooms are traditionally gathered in baskets so any spores will fall to the ground to increase the number of mushrooms in future years.Continue to 2 of 14 below.
02 of 14
Materials List for Making Dollhouse and Model Scale Mushrooms
To Make Miniature Scale Mushrooms You Will Need:
Continue to 3 of 14 below.
- Delight air dry clay. Other varieties of air dry clay and polymer clay will work, but won't create the same texture. You will need around a 1/2 inch square of clay from a package, making this a good group project as one package of clay will work for a fairly large group of miniaturists. If you break your clay up into groups to color it, color roughly a quarter inch square with paint at a time by kneading the color into the clay, then setting it aside to dry out slightly before you sue it.
- Water Color or Acrylic Paints - Used to color the clay to the correct base color. I used a pale ochre yellow, and a grey beige oyster color mixed into air dry clay to color it.
- Modelling tools - I like using silicone tipped clay shaper tools but rounded toothpicks and pins as well as a stiff brush and a small water color brush are all you need.
- Pastels - I used brown, ochre and deep brown pastels from the Pan Pastels range.
- Clear Acrylic Glaze - to add shine to the surface of any mushroom which should have a shiny coat.
- Also Useful - small dish of water, bits of plastic wrap to cover any prepared colored clay which is not currently in use so it doesn't dry out.
03 of 14
Start Exploring Miniature Mushroom Making With Puffballs.
If this is your first experience working with Delight clay, these scale miniature puffballs are the easist miniature mushroom to make. Simply roll small balls of various sizes from the clay in its original white form and set them aside to dry. Larger balls may dry slightly "crumpled" resembling older puffballs, depending on how much moisture the clay looses as it drys. Puffballs are anywhere from one or two inches to 1 1/2 feet in diameter, so you have a lot of play within any scale.
If you find your balls all have cracks or folds when you make them, your clay is likely too dry. Dip your puffball briefly in water, or dampen it with a damp, not wet, watercolor brush, re knead the clay to get moisture evenly through it and start again.
Delight is a very forgiving material and can be set aside to dry out if too sticky, or reworked with slight additions of water to make it almost as good as new.
Tip - only take as much clay out of your main zippered plastic pouch as you will use within fifteen minutes. Leave the rest of the clay in its original package inside a sealled zip lock bag, from which you have all the excess air. This practise will may your clay last for several years between uses. If you are trying to work with an opened package and find it has dried too much to work, add a small damp makeup sponge to the bag for a few days, or dip the clay in water and replace it in a sealed bag, usually the dried clay will absorb enough moisture to become workable again. While you are working with the clay, cover any excess on your worktable with a piece of plastic wrap, or a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out before you use it.Continue to 4 of 14 below.
04 of 14
Make A Range of Domed Shapes for a Wide Variety of Minature Mushroom Caps
Many mushrooms are based on domed caps. The caps can be thin and wide or thick and rounded like the common crimini mushrooms found in most grocery stores. To begin making mushroom caps, mix a pale yellow / ochre mix of clay by adding acrylic or water color paint into the white basic clay. As a second base color for other varieties of mushrooms, mix a pale taupe mix of a very light brown and grey color into some of the white clay.
To make a variety of domed shapes for you miniature mushrooms, quickly roll a range of balls of clay from your various base colors. Gently flatten some of the domes for flat topped mushrooms, or use a clay shaper tool to pull up the edges of the ball above the top of your dome, making oyster style mushroom caps and caps that will work for chanterelles (made from pale yellow / ochre clay).
For reference photos of edible mushrooms, a good source is American Mushrooms.com. To make the most realistic mushrooms, work from a photo in a mushroom identification book, trying to reproduce not only the size and color of the mushroom cap, but also any other features which identify that particular mushroom. Not all mushrooms are smooth topped domes, some are dented in the centers and size varies widely.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
05 of 14
Make Rolls of Colored Clays for Miniature Mushroom Stems
All mushrooms have similar stems, although the sizes are different, and some mushrooms bulge at the base. To make miniature mushroom stems, roll several different thicknesses of stem, up to roughly 1/16 inch in diameter, depending on the variety of mushroom you are attempting to mimic. Make stems from all basic colors of clay you have mixed and leave the rolls of clay to dry. Stems are very easy to add to hardened clay caps, and if you are working with Delight air dry clay, dried clay is easiest to handle and shape for small parts.Continue to 6 of 14 below.
06 of 14
Make Cone Shaped Caps for Dollhouse Morels and Mushrooms
Many mushrooms and edible morels have cone shaped caps. These caps come to a rounded dome on the top, they are very rarely pointed and cone shaped.
To make the cone shaped caps roll out rolls of clay to the diameter you want the top of the cap to be. Cut sections off the roll. Holding the mushroom cap gently, press a rounded toothpick or clay shaper tool into the base of the mushroom cap and press out, thinning the edges and widening the shape of the cone. Set aside to dry.
Some cone shaped mushrooms have thin bases above the gills, like shaggy mane mushrooms. Others,like morels, have no gills under the mushroom cap, but round down to the connection with the stem. Make a range of conical shaped caps from all colors of your clay mix and leave to dry. If you want to make morels, score the mushroom cone gently from the top to the bottom, creating thin strips or lines. Use the tip of a modelling tool, or a toothpick to press small indentations into the space between the lines, creating the distinctive shape of a morel. Set the morel caps and cone shaped mushroom caps aside to dry.
Some of the conical morels and mushrooms have twisted caps, so shape these with a slight twist before you set them aside to dry.Continue to 7 of 14 below.
07 of 14
How to Shape Mushroom Gills in Delight Air Dry Clay
The gills of a mushroom are the lines under the mushroom cap. The gills only run to the stem of the mushroom.
To start making gills under a dried mushroom cap of any shape, brush a bit of water into the area where you want to form the gills. This will take a bit of experimenting, you want the clay damp, but not wet and slimy, and wet only in the area where you want to make gills. When the clay is damp, add a bit of color to the clay with pastels or paint. Now shape the gills by drawing the fine tip of a pin gently from the center of the cap outward to the base of the cap radiating your lines from the center. The pin should create neat furrows if the clay is the correct moisture. If the lines are too deep or too thick, your clay may be too wet. Let it dry a bit then try again.
When your first set of gill lines is finished like those in the photo on this page, set the cap aside to dry before you color the top. When you have finished coloring the mushroom with pastels and or paints or glazes, take a damp brush and some more of the color you used for the start of the gills, and finish coloring the lines which you scratched back to the main color as you drew in your first lines. If you wish you can gently redefine the gill lines after this final coloring.
Set your mushroom cap aside to dry before you assemble the cap and the stem.Continue to 8 of 14 below.
08 of 14
Make Tiered Miniature Mushrooms Including "Chicken of the Woods"
Many mushrooms grow as tiered layers. You can make "Chicken of the Woods" mushrooms by making small balls of ochre yellow colored clay and flattening them in layers on top of each other to make this distinctive mushroom. When you have the layers built up the way you want (these mushroom grow both flat and wavy), brush on some lines of pastel coloring to make stripes of yellow ochre that run parallel to the edges of the fungus.
Experimenting with this layered technique will also let you build up "bracket" fungi of the sort that grow on trees.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
09 of 14
Create the Correct Texture for Shaggy Mane Mushrooms in Dollhouse Scale
Many mushrooms do not have smooth caps. Shaggy manes, a common edible mushroom are reconizable by their conical shape and shaggy caps. You can replicate this shaggy coat in miniature in two ways, one using a stiff paint brush, the other a scalpel blade (see the cremini / portobello mushroom instructions for the blade method).
To get the shaggy effect on the caps of your mushrooms, dampen the mushroom cap slightly before you add the final coloring. Use a stiff paint brush with fine bristles and gently push up from the base of the cap in short strokes around your mushroom cap. You should get little bumps or rolls (depending on how damp your clay is) which will imitate the shaggy coat of shaggy manes. If the technique doesn't work at first for you, let your mushroom cap dry, then dampen it and try again.
When the mushroom cap has the correct texture, take a light wash of grey watercolor or acrylic and wash the mushroom cap gently with a brush only slightly dampened with paint. Too wet a brush and you will wash away your texture. Color the inside of the mushroom cap base with a darker grey or black color. Older shaggy manes dissolve to black mush almost before your eyes. Set the colored mushroom caps aside to dry.
To fit the stems in the caps, cut lengths of stem material a bit longer than the height of your mushroom's conical cap. Dip one end of the stem briefly in water, and use a soft paintbrush to thin the stem at that end, making it slightly conical. Dip the end in water briefly again, and press it into the center base of your mushroom cap, holding it for a few seconds. If you didn't get the clay too wet, the cap and stem will stick nicely together. Set the mushroom assembly aside to dry thoroughly before you handle it again. If you are worried about joining stems and caps, you can use pva glue, but a bit of moisture is usually enough to blend the sections of air dry clay together.Continue to 10 of 14 below.
10 of 14
Make Miniature Portobello and Crimini Mushroom Caps and Stems
Crimini / Cremini and Portobello mushrooms are the most common mushroom found in grocery stores in North America. Portobello mushrooms are the larger version of the common smaller crimini. These mushrooms have gently domed tops, dark gills and rough caps. To make these mushrooms start with a white base and shape domed caps in a range of sizes. Allow the basic caps to dry thoroughly.
Take a damp brush and brush some deep brown pastel over the cap completely covering the edges at the base of the mushroom where it joins the gills. Use the same pastel on the stems. You can also create white versions of cremini mushrooms if you wish.
When the damp pastel coat is dry, use a sharp scalpel blade in a knife holder to cut fine sections of the surface of the mushroom free (see photo), peeling up the sections slightly from the bottom of the cap towards the top. Don't try to cut too deep. If you can't get the right texture, dampen the clay, or leave it to dry a bit and try again.Continue to 11 of 14 below.
11 of 14
Finishing Miniature Portobello and Crimini Mushrooms
To finish your miniature portobello or crimini mushrooms, check that the gills are finished below your mushroom cap. These mushrooms have dark gills regardless of the color of the cap. Dip the narrow end of your mushroom stem into water, or apply water to the end of the stem with a fine paint brush. Press the stem firmly to the cap, holding it in place while the moist clay bonds to the drier clay of the cap. Set the mushrooms aside to dry completely.
If you applied too much pastel to color your gills, you may have to brush some away from the center of your mushroom cap in order to get the cap and stem to bond.Continue to 12 of 14 below.
12 of 14
Coloring and Assembling Dollhouse Miniature Morel Mushrooms
To finish any miniature morels you made following the instructions in the step on making cone shaped mushroom caps, Color the lines of the mushroom caps with pastels in either a golden ochre color, or a deep black / brown. Use a brush to add color into the indentations you made to give the morels their shape. Some varieties of morel have dark indentations and some have lighter ones, so look at some photo before you finish your morels.
Take a section of stem that matches the base color of your morels and use a fine damp paint brush to create a slight bulge at the bottom end of the stem, narrowing the stem at the top where it will meet the base of th morel. Dampen the top of the stem and press it to the base of the morel, holding it in place until it begins to dry. Set the miniature morel aside to dry completely before adding it to a miniature scene.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
13 of 14
Make Parts for Dollhouse Scale Amanita Mushrooms
Amanita mushrooms are the red and white, or brown and white mushrooms known for their poisonous properties. These mushrooms have a range of dome shaped caps, with small white 'warts' on top of the glossy red to brown surface. The stems are very distinctive as well, with small round 'veiling' rings just below the cap and just above the slightly bulbous base.
To make miniature amanita mushrooms prepare white domed caps from air dry clay and set them aside to dry. When dry, mark veins with a pin beneath the cap. As the veins are white you don't need to color them.
When the veins are dry, apply a thin coating of glossy red or red brown paint to the top of the mushroom cap. Set the caps aside to dry.
While the caps are drying, prepare the stems by using a paint brush to push up on the end of the stem to make a slightly bulbous base. Take a bit of white clay in your hand and make two very thin circles of clay, paper thin if possible. Set one circle on the top of the stem and use a damp brush to blend it down so it flares out slightly below the top end of the stem (see photo).
Set the second circle over the base end of the stem and use a brush to blend it to the base of the stem, leaving a narrow ring to flare out from the stem above the base as shown in the photo.
When the cap is dry, rub some clay mixed with water into the palm of your hand making it very thin. Use a damp paintbrush to pick up tiny amounts of this thin clay setting them onto the top surface of the mushroom cap. Press them onto the cap to secure them, leaving them a 'warty' shape if possible. Allow the cap and the stem to dry.Continue to 14 of 14 below.
14 of 14
Assemble the Miniature Amanita Mushrooms
To finish the assembly of your miniature scale amanita mushrooms, use a brush to apply water to the top of the stem, or dip the top end of the stem very briefly in water. Hold the stem against the center of the underside of the mushroom cap until it begins to dry in place. Keep the veil 'rings' at the top and bottom of the stem from getting damp or wet. You want them to look like fine tissue paper with uneven edges. If you get these rings wet, they will thicken and clump togehter.
Set your miniature amanita mushrooms aside to dry.